Unlike its neighbours, Israel has remained a hub of stability both politically and economically.
Israel is a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean. It is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as a Holy Land.
It borders the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Egypt, the Red Sea, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon in the Middle East. Israel's most sacred sites are in Jerusalem.
Within its Old City the Temple Mount complex, includes the Dome of the Rock shrine, the historic Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Its financial hub is Tel Aviv, also known for its architecture, beaches and nightlife.
Unlike its neighbours, Israel has remained a hub of stability both politically and economically. It is a strong ally of the US and has got one of the most powerful armies in the world.
Israel's intelligence organization the MOSSAD is rated among the best worldwide. The Middle East is a trouble spot marked by Islamic militancy and terrorism, yet Israel stands out as an oasis of stability, thanks to its powerful western backers and resilient population.
- Area: 20,770 sq km (Israel is 12 times smaller than Uganda.)
- Founded: May 14, 1948
- Population: 8,049,314 (July 2014 estimate, includes Golan Heights) Median age: 39.6
- Currency: Israeli new shekel
- Continent: Asia
- Official languages: Hebrew, Arabic
- Capital: Jerusalem. Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital in 1949 and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 (although all international embassies are in Tel Aviv) Ethnic Groups: Jewish 75%, non-Jewish 25% (mostly Arab) (2013 estimate.)
- Religion: Jewish 75.1%, Muslim 17.4%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.6%, other 3.9% (2013 estimate.)
- GDP: $272.1 billion (2014 estimate.)
- GDP per capita: $33,100 (2014 estimate.)
- Economy: Israel has a technologically advanced market economy. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals are among the leading exports.
- Unemployment: 5.9% (2014 estimate.)
- Prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu
- President: Reuven Rivlin
- Large numbers of Jewish people began migrating to Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire, in the late 19th century. This was in response to increasing persecution and anti-Semitism in Europe. Israel is a parliamentary democracy comprised of legislative, executive and judicial branches. The president is head of state, but mostly in a ceremonial sense.
- About 93% of the land is owned by the State of Israel, the Jewish National Fund and the Development Authority, and by law cannot be sold.
(Compiled by Jacky Achan)
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